Tuesday, January 29, 2013 7:04 pm
Peace envoy says Syria is 'being destroyed'
By PETER JAMES SPIELMANNAssociated Press
The Security Council has been divided over Syria for months, with the United States, Britain, France and other Western powers backing the armed opposition and pushing for resolutions that raised the threat of sanctions. Three times, Russia and China have cast vetoes to block those resolutions.
"I'm embarrassed to be repeating the same thing: Syria is being destroyed," Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, said after closed-door consultations with the Security Council.
Brahimi blamed both Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and the Western-backed opposition forces.
"Objectively, they are cooperating to destroy Syria. Syria is being destroyed bit by bit. And in destroying Syria, the region is being pushed into a situation that is extremely bad, and extremely important for the entire world," Brahimi said.
He said that is why the Security Council has a duty to overcome its divisions.
Brahimi suggested that the Security Council revisit the Geneva Communique of June 2012, a broad but ambiguous proposal endorsed by the Western powers and Russia to provide a basis for negotiations.
Assad's role in any transition government was a red line during the negotiations of the Geneva Communique, and was left vague. The United States and Russia continue to disagree on Assad's role, though both signed off on the communique.
Brahimi says the Security Council should now look toward the provisions of the Geneva Communique as a solution.
"A very critical element is the creation of this governing body, which is really a transition government, with full executive powers," Brahimi said.
"I think there was a very clever creative ambiguity in this creation, but I told them that ambiguity has to be lifted now. Now you have to say what those full executive powers would be. All the powers of state have got to go to that government," he told reporters outside the council.
Without a council push on the Assad government and opposition, the Geneva Communique and his mediation "cannot be implemented as it is."
Brahimi addressed widespread rumors that he was about to quit, as his predecessor, former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan, did last year when he ran into a similar impasse.
"Am I going to resign? I am not a quitter," Brahimi said. "The United Nations has no choice but to remain engaged with this problem, whether I am there or not. The moment I feel I am totally useless, I will not stay one minute more.
"So if I'm doing it, it is because, maybe stupidly, I feel a sense of duty," Brahimi said.
His pessimism extended to his assessment of the current state of negotiations:
"I'm trying to use some of my powers of conviction, with very little success up till now," he said.
"You may have seen that the two parties are maybe a little more embarrassed to say that `We're going to achieve victory next week.' And both sides have started to say, `If there is a political solution, perhaps we are willing to listen, provided that political solution will give us 100 percent of what we want.'"